Poll: Americans agree Clinton and Trump headed for a faceoff

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WASHINGTON — Americans don’t agree on much in politics these days, but a new poll finds broad majorities in agreement that the front-runners for the Republican and Democratic nominations for president will wind up the winners in the end.

According to a new CNN/ORC Poll out Monday, 84 percent of voters nationwide think Donald Trump will lead the Republican ticket in November, while 85 percent say the same about Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

But the sense of inevitability hasn’t boosted their support among their own parties. Each has the backing of about half of voters: Clinton is the choice of 51 percent of Democratic voters, while 49 percent of Republican voters say they would prefer Trump to be their nominee.

For the rest of the Republican side, 25 percent back Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and 19 percent support Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Among those not already backing Trump, nearly half say the GOP front-runner is their second choice: 43 percent of non-Trump voters say that if the candidate they support doesn’t get the nomination, Trump is their backup.

About a third choose either Kasich or Cruz and 15 percent say their second choice is someone other than the remaining three candidates.

Trump also prompts the most enthusiasm of the remaining three candidates: 39 percent say they will be enthusiastic if he wins the nomination, 21 percent would feel that way about Cruz and 16 percent about Kasich. More say they would be dissatisfied or upset with Cruz (45 percent) or Kasich (39 percent) than say the same about Trump (33 percent).

That lack of enthusiasm for the candidates trying to catch Trump may be behind tepid support for the race to even continue. About two-thirds say that Kasich should drop out of the race now that he is no longer able to win the delegates needed to capture the nomination through the primaries and caucuses, a smaller majority of 52 percent says the same about Cruz.

Trump’s support in the race has remained roughly steady overall since March, but a small gender gap has grown in the last month as Trump’s backing among men has increased. Among women, 43 percent back Trump, 29 percent Cruz and 21 percent Kasich, while men split 54 percent Trump, 21 percent Cruz and 18 percent Kasich. Last month, Trump had 50 percent support among men and 44 percent among women.

About half of Republican voters say the GOP is now divided and will remain so in November (49 percent now, about the same as the 46 percent who said the same in March). That sentiment is more common among non-Trump supporters. In that group, 60 percent say the party is divided and won’t be able to unite by November. That figure dips to 37 percent among Trump’s backers.

Overall, 91 percent of Republican voters think Trump will ultimately be the party’s nominee. But if no candidate captures a majority of the delegates at stake in primaries and caucuses by the time the final contests are complete June 7, 60 percent of Republican voters say the delegates should vote for the candidate with the most support in the primaries, 37 percent for the one they think is the best candidate.

Asked to rate the importance of several factors in choosing a nominee at a contested convention, however, delegates aren’t seen as the only consideration. A third say the candidate’s chances to win in November should be the most important consideration, 25 percent whether the candidate reflects the values of the Republican Party and 22 percent how many delegates the candidate has won. Trump supporters are more likely to see delegate count as the most important factor (32 percent among Trump backers, 13 percent among others).

Few see a candidate’s vice presidential pick as a top factor, and the one that has emerged thus far, Carly Fiorina, doesn’t appear to sway many voters. About two-thirds of Republican voters say Cruz’s selection won’t make a difference in whether they support him, should he win the nomination, though most, 55 percent, feel his selection reflects positively on his ability to make important presidential decisions.

The Democrats

On the Democratic side, 51 percent say Clinton is their top choice for the nomination, 43 percent Sanders, that’s about the same as in March. And enthusiasm for a Clinton candidacy has grown as her chances of winning enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee have increased. In the new poll, 41 percent say they would be enthusiastic about her candidacy, up from 34 percent in March.

But more see the Democratic Party as divided now than said so in March. Overall, 69 percent say the party is split, up from 59 percent in March. Nearly a quarter now say the Democratic Party is likely to remain divided through November, up 8 points from 15 percent in March. Sanders’ backers are more likely to say the Party will remain divided, 31 percent say so vs. 15 percent among Clinton supporters.

The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone April 28 through May 1 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The results include interviews with 405 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote, as well as 406 Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters. The results among Democratic voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, it is the same for results among Republican voters.